Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest Mextures Artist Feature article!
The article today will have a bit of a different layout – instead of selecting a gallery of images and formulas to share with you, I have asked our guest to share with me some of his favorite images and formulas from his gallery. I want to give our guests full control over their articles, as the articles are meant to highlight them and their favorite works. So, henceforth the layout will be done in a way where the artist’s selected images and formulas will be spread throughout the article. I hope you’ll enjoy this layout and format.
Today we’re getting to know a wonderful Mextures artist named Matt (@marbleinthedust on Instagram) and our chat was so inclusive I’m just going to jump right to it without much of my own “artist introduction” this time! Hope you’ll enjoy, and be sure to visit Matt’s Instagram page and show him some love and support!
Getting to know @marbleinthedust
Hi there! Who is the guy behind @marbleinthedust? Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi. My name is Matt. I’m 33 and from Boston, MA. When I was in high school I found a box full of photos my Dad had taken when he was younger and I was fascinated. I bought a camera, started shooting, and haven’t looked back since.
How neat! What did you start shooting with?
My first camera was a Vivitar V4000 that I used well through college. The iPhone was really a game changer for me, with the ability to easily snap a photo pretty much anywhere. I also have a Nikon D3300 that I use when I shoot.
That Nikon’s gotta be heavy! I bet the iPhone comes in handy even on “regular shoots,” doesn’t it? It does for me, at least. Hahaha!
Oh yeah! I definitely use my phone even when the Nikon is hanging from my neck. I bought something called InstaLens, which are lens attachments for the iPhone. I have a wide angle/macro combo lens and a fisheye lens. So I am always taking those out to see what they can do.
How do you like those? I have a couple different versions and variations but mostly they leave a lot of distortion around the edges of the images!
My only complaint is that the magnet you use to attach the lens is slightly larger than my case, so I can’t put a case on my phone anymore. But that’s a small problem for the fun that comes with it.
Yes, I just received the Olloclip and that’s my only complaint with it – no “true” case on the phone. I’m very susceptible to destroying phones by simply looking at them. Walking around with one without a case is kind of, well, a stupid thing for me to do. Hahahah!
Now that we know how you got into photography and what you like to shoot with, tell us a little about your style. What styles and subjects do you prefer? Do you find yourself doing more with a certain style/subject or being drawn to all sorts of photography for your own work?
I almost exclusively shoot nature shots. I have a thing for trees, especially. I like most subjects though. Most of my shots are trees, sunsets or mountains and lakes.
That’s one of my favorite hashtags – #ihavethisthingfortrees. Nature is such an amazing and inspiring subject – many subjects within a subject, really. What inspires you the most for your work?
I think it’s a combination of two things. The first would have to be all of the talented artists I have discovered since I jumped into the Instagram community back in June (I had a private account for years where I would share the randomness with my friends, but @marbleinthedust as a public expression of art was a new concept to me). I was blown away by the amount of skill and creativity tucked away in the corners of Instagram.
Secondly, taking more pictures has inspired me to keep taking more pictures, if that makes sense. Not only because it’s fun, but also because I have my eyes open constantly, looking for the next shot. I’ve noticed that in the last year or so I have increasingly taken the time to study the clouds, or the way a tree is blowing in the breeze. It’s amazing how much natural beauty is around us when you stop to appreciate it.
Yes, it makes perfect sense. I operate under the philosophy that photography is almost a spiritual experience for me. It allows me the privilege of really connecting with what is around me, and with myself at the same time. To be connected, especially with nature, as you’re saying – noticing the clouds and studying them more, or the trees in the breeze, or for me it’s the tiny details of nature that so often go unnoticed like the tiny insect crawling on the flower or the finest elements of that flower – that definitely keeps me living more in the now and keeps my mind in a healthier place.
You mentioned the Instagram community and how it’s inspired you – how did you first get involved with Instagram?
I actually remember exactly how it happened: 192 weeks ago (I just went back and looked, haha) I was at brunch with my friend Sam and he was talking about Instagram. I had yet to sign up and he convinced me on the spot. My first post was an off centered picture of my meal, with an Instagram filter and one of the giant white frames.
Haha! I remember the frames! Was it a good meal?
Haha yeah it was definitely a good meal. The Bloody Mary’s were great, too.
Oh! Don’t tempt me! I’ve had a crazy day and a drink would be excellent right about now! Hahaha!
So, how did Instagram evolve for you to become a place of true artistic expression?
I had been editing pictures on the iPhone for a couple of years. Someone had shown me Camera+ and I had been using that for a long time, but I wanted more from the filters than it offered. I searched for the best photo editing apps and stumbled across Mextures.
Life changing, wasn’t it!?
Oh yeah, totally was. Haha!
I keep telling people!! They look at me like I’m insane until they try it out.
I just got my Dad to download it, but he’s in Florida so I think he might be waiting for me to give him a tutorial. Haha!
At first, Mextures was intimidating. But, I eventually got the hang of it. I had been using it for a while before I took the time to read the “News” section. That’s where I discovered just how large the community really was. They always suggest to share your edits, so I figured, “might as well.” I made a new account and started posting pics.
That’s great! I thought I was going to be a total FAIL with the Mextures app when I first started using it. The truth was that I just needed a little patience and to realize that the whole point of the app is to create. Unlike other “filter” apps, where you just change the image with one tap, Mextures is filled with, for lack of a better word, power. The point is to give you control of what you create, as much control as possible, and that in itself should be something that I was really immersing myself in with my pieces. Once I realized it wasn’t your normal “filter” app, that it was a true tool, I slowed down and really immersed myself in it and thus in my art. It was a totally life changing experience for me in my little art world. It’s just such a different, amazing tool.
Yeah, I look at my Mextures “skills” from back then versus now and I have evolved for sure. You’re totally right about the control it gives you. I don’t know any other apps that work quite on the same level as Mextures. So versatile, too.
Definitely! Speaking of sharing your edits, do you share your formulas as well?
Yes, I share all my formulas. I’ll be happy to give you a bunch of my favorites.
That’d be excellent!!
How has Mextures helped you to grow and expand as an artist? What looks/styles do you find yourself gravitating to as you use the app?
It’s helped me grow to the point where I think “can’t wait to throw that one in Mextures,” like the second I take the picture. I even find myself looking for shots that I know would work great with the app, especially foggy days.
Oh yes! Foggy days are one of my new favorite obsessions – especially in the woods, with those trees we were talking about earlier. Haha!
Yes. Haha! For the other part of that question – I find myself working with two different styles when I use the app. Ones that I have dubbed “color bombs” – just massive amounts of colors and textures and saturation, and then unfiltered looking pictures that have more subtle enhancements like adding more light or balancing contrast a bit to make a cleaner shot.
I am really enjoying the faded looks myself. I love the contrast of shadows and the looks that can be achieved with the new packs, too.
I love the faded looks. There are some feeds that pretty much always post with a little fade and it looks great. I don’t use it too much because I feel like it doesn’t compliment my style. I have debated starting a separate account that almost always uses fade.
I did that recently with my black and white work, as I had several Instagrammers explain to me that black and white is such a beautiful style all it’s own – a genre, really – and I don’t shoot it as much as color (or edit it, for that matter) so they suggested that I do a separate account so that the black and whites wouldn’t get lost in a sea of color on my main account. I love how it’s turned out aesthetically and otherwise. I’ve connected with a lot of black and white only artists since doing that and learned tons from them.
I’ve done a couple black and white edits using Mextures. I used to exclusively shoot black and white when I was younger. I was fascinated by the depth you could pull out of a colorful scene using black and white film. Like you, I would need a separate feed to make sure they didn’t get washed away in my color.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding your art/art in general? What memorable responses have you had to your work via Instagram as a community?
Being told to “shoot what you like” was very helpful advice. Same goes for editing styles. It gets tough when you’re posting to a public forum sometimes. It’s easy to get caught up in the, “well, my last post was this style and it got a ton of likes,” game. Being told not to think about that stuff and just post the work you’re proud of without trying to cater to a specific audience was extremely helpful advice.
My parents are super supportive and they always say stuff encouraging me. I’ve shown people my feed for the first time and gotten the, “whoa, this is you!??” That always feel great. And, I’ve made some Instagram friends that are always very supportive. The best compliments, though, are those where someone comments on a subtle shadow or light or something, because that means they actually looked at your picture for more time than it takes to do a double tap while you scroll through your feed. And, when people comment that they like a formula I shared, that’s always a great compliment, too.
But, I think the biggest compliment for me is when someone tags someone else in the comments section. To me, when someone appreciates what I’ve done to the point that they want someone else to see it, too, that the ultimate compliment.
Yes, that’s been one of my most useful attitudes about posting in a public forum, that really started way back in the deviantART days. I don’t know if I have been lucky or just grown to be more self confident but I originally post my work for me – because I want to share it. If it’s something that reaches others, which it’s bound to do in SOME way because that’s what art is about in the first place, then it’s just icing on the cake for me. I want my work to reach people once I share it – to speak to them, to connect them with each other and with me…but I am on Instagram, first and foremost, to share myself through my art and my writing. I’m very transparent in that way, and always have been.
So, as you say, being encouraged to remain true to your cause, so to speak – to remain “as I am” in my sharing, sharing what I want and what I love, is absolutely encouraging. I’m not there to complete. I’m there to be me, to grow, to learn, and to build relationships with amazing artists and friends. It’s fabulous, all in all.
Yes! Very well said, I feel the same way. Although, I do take it personally when my favorite posts totally flop. Haha!
Yes! As do I. It’s kind of a blow when something that you love and means so much to you doesn’t get the response you hope it will. For me, that’s feeling like I’ve failed in the way of inspiring others with my work or my expression. Not so much that they didn’t like the piece – because if I liked the piece that’s most important to me, or I wouldn’t have shared it. But, it’s that I feel like I didn’t put enough into it that they could take something away from it, or bring out with my writing what might be hiding in the piece…
When I feel like they couldn’t find anything to take away from it for themselves, I feel like I’ve failed as an artist and as a human. It becomes even more personal, then. It’s definitely a fine line between posting for myself and hoping it inspires many once I have shared it.
Oh, and I love that feeling as an artist when someone is so inspired or encouraged by your art that they tag someone else to make sure they see it, usually because they know the person they tag will relate to it, as well. It’s like this feeling of true connection at such a cosmic…deeper or higher?…level, a more collective consciousness type thing rather than cliques and groups of general friends.
Haha! Yeah, you’re on point! It’s a cool feeling to know that someone connected with something you’ve created to the level that they wanted to show someone else. To inspire people like that is really what it’s all about. Not just in photography, but life in general.
Ok, so, do you have any professional plans or goals for your art/work? Do you have any dream projects?
No, I don’t really have any big plans for my photography. It would be super cool to do a blog series where I toured a bunch of breweries and then paired the experience with photos I took and reviews of the places/beers.
That would be insanely awesome and interesting! I think you should totally pursue that!
Or, to tour with Phish as their staff photographer…but they already have a couple of those.
Oh wow – that’s pretty ambitious! But you never know, Matt! You’re really fabulous. Don’t give up on that idea!
Haha! I would just need to learn how to photograph food for the brewery idea.
Always learning! Right?
Thank you! I’m a little ways away from that level still. Hahaha!
What couldn’t you do without regarding your art, besides your camera(s)?
Music, for sure. I never really played an instrument (trombone for a few years) but music is such an important part of my life. There’s songs and genres for every mood and occasion. I listen to music when I edit a bunch of the time. And it always works its way into my edit, whether just in the title of the formula or inspiring colors and textures. That probably sounds insane. Hahaha!
No and yes! No, not at all insane, and YES because I so deeply relate to that. I’m a HUGE music person. I play a few instruments (not regularly, not anymore) but I literally ALWAYS have music playing, no matter what I’m doing, even when I’m shooting and ESPECIALLY when I’m editing. It inspires my work in exactly the ways you described. It’s almost like medicine for me. It inspires me, heals me…it’s like a tonic in so many ways. And, I’m a person who hears and feels music down into my bones. Literally. THAT probably sounds insane if anything does! Hahaha!
No, that doesn’t sound insane at all to me! I truly get it. I’m the same.
Was that the only thing you couldn’t do without regarding your art?
Oh, no – more importantly is Mextures. And, some of the other iPhone apps I use. I have never posted something on my feed that I didn’t wash through Mextures. I’ve also dabbled with Union App, Matter App, Alien Sky, and a few others. Sometimes I end up with something that looks kind of plain and being able to use some of those apps to bring out more creativity is such a great thing to have in your hand.
Agreed – couldn’t do without Mextures at this point. Not because the photos aren’t good without the edits, necessarily, but because the edits help to bring out so much more of what I want to express in the original image.
I’m not great with the more advanced masking apps like Union, myself, but then that’s not my style as a general rule. I love the edits I see others doing with those apps, though. And sometimes I do wish I could get myself to spend some time with them and get to know them a little better.
Oh, last question – my favorite. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?
Yeah – that’s why I love this question.
I think I have to go with telekinesis – being able to move stuff with my mind. I think it would be fun to take a “hands free” approach to life when needed. Also, I would be able to levitate myself to get those hard to reach shots.
Absolutely! That would be a fabulous superpower as an artist. It would totally give you the ability to get those awesome in-air shots without having to spend the money on those camera drone deals that are around these days. Hahaha! Love it!
Hahaha! Yeah, or without having to rent a helicopter.
Well, Matt, this has been a great chat. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, as an artist and as a person, better. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me for this series!
You’re welcome! I’m flattered to have been asked. It was a fun experience for me, too!
Have a great evening, Matt! Thanks again!